Shoplifting Laws and Penalties in Arizona

Maybe you saw something and just felt like you needed to have it, but didn’t have enough money. Or maybe someone in your family was in desperate need of clothing, food, or medication, and you felt like the ends justified the means. Whatever your motives or needs, the state of Arizona does not condone shoplifting, and punishes the crime very severely.

Still, just because you made one stupid mistake does not mean that you deserve to be demonized and railroaded. Shoplifters deserve to be treated fairly and given a second chance, if possible, which is why anyone caught shoplifting in Phoenix or other parts of the state should contact an experienced criminal attorney who has handled cases like yours before. A good Phoenix criminal attorney can make sure that you know what is going on at every point in your case, and will fight to make sure you receive the best possible outcome.

What Constitutes Shoplifting in Arizona

Someone can be charged with shoplifting in Arizona for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Actually removing any of the products from the store itself or from any display directly outside the establishment without paying the purchase price
  • Charging the cost of the products to a person who does not exists or to any person without that person’s permission. (Often, this will include charges of forgery or identity theft for using another person’s checks or credit cards illegally.)
  • Using some artifice or trick like removing the price on a product, or replacing one price tag with another to obtain the product at a discounted amount
  • Transferring a product from one container to a different one in an attempt to avoid paying or to pay less
  • Concealment of the product to avoid payment

Charges and Penalties for Arizona Shoplifting

Just as the crime of theft has different charges and penalties associated with stealing things worth different monetary amounts, so does the crime of shoplifting. Penalties and charges will also obviously increase with subsequent convictions, but for a first time shoplifter, here is how Arizona lays out their charges and penalties:

  • For merchandise valued at less than $1,000, you will be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor and face up to 6 months in jail.
  • For merchandise valued at more than $1,000 but less than $2,000, you will be charged with a Class 6 felony and face up to 1 year in prison.
  • For merchandise valued at $2,000 or more, you will be charged with a Class 5 felony and face up to 1 ½ years in prison.

The only product for which value does not play a role is when a firearm has been shoplifted. When this occurs and the person is caught, they will automatically be charged with a Class 6 felony.

In addition to possible jail or prison time, convicted shoplifters will face fines and possible community service. Also, if you came into the store with some kind of container or other device intended to help you to shoplift, you will be charged with a Class 4 felony regardless of the amount of the item stolen. Those who have been convicted of two or more similar offenses (such as burglary, robbery, or theft) in the past 5 years will also face Class 4 felony charges. And Class 5 felony charges apply to anyone who has stolen from three separate retail establishments in three consecutive days, regardless of the amount of the current item in question.

Your Rights in Arizona If You Have Been Caught Shoplifting

It is legal for a store employee or any agent of the store to hold you on the premises in order to bring in a law enforcement officer, so long as you are held in a reasonable way for a reasonable amount of time, and the person who caught you had reasonable cause to conduct their search of your property to discover the stolen item.

All of these things are important to keep in mind when facing charges of shoplifting, because it is not uncommon for merchants to target people through profiling that they believe to be likely shoplifters. An experienced Phoenix shoplifting attorney will make sure to look into all of the details of the case, including whether or not the merchant or merchant’s agent had a right to stop you in the first place, and if they followed proper procedure in detaining you. Remember, just because you’ve been charged with a crime does not mean that you have given up your rights as a human being and a citizen of the United States. A good criminal attorney will work diligently to try to reduce your charges or even get them dropped altogether.

By Michael Munoz

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